Finding Fruit in Philippians
an SK Bible Study
Week 6: Keep Going and Don’t Look Back!
Philippians 3:12-4:1 (NIV)
(12) Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (13) Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(15) All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. (16) Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
(17) Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. (18) For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. (19) Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. (20) But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (21) who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (1) Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love nd long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
Genesis 19 tells us the story of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, his wife and two daughters lived in Sodom. God was preparing to destroy these two cities but first gave opportunity to Lot and his family to flee the city:
With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished…As soon as they [angels] had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives!” Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!” (Genesis 19:16, 17a)
The story goes on to say that, as they reached the town of Zoar, “the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah” (vs.24). When they entered the town, “Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt”(vs. 26).
I have always wondered about the demise of Lot’s wife. Why did she die? The Matthew Henry Commentary offers five theories:
- She disobeyed an express command, sinning just like Adam did
- Unbelief was at the bottom of it; she questioned whether Sodom would be destroyed, and thought she might still have been safe in it.
- She looked back on her neighbors whom she had left behind with more concern than was appropriate.
- She was probably sad to leave her house and possessions; she cared too much about her ‘stuff’.
- By looking back, she showed an inclination to want to return “and therefore our Saviour uses it as a warning against apostasy from our Christian profession. We have all renounced the world and the flesh, and have set our faces heaven-ward; we are in the plain, upon our probation; and it is at our peril if we return into the interests we profess to have abandoned.”
We will probably never know if all of these were reasons why Lot’s wife died, but one thing we can do is learn from her mistake. Paul is telling us in this letter to the church at Philippi to “move on toward the goal to win the prize.” (vs. 14, NIrV).
Why do we sometimes dwell, in an unhealthy way, on past experiences, thoughts, and actions of our old life?
Paul challenges us, by his words and his life example, to “forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead” (vs.13b). He goes back to the thoughts that he shared with the Philippians in the beginning of his letter (chapter 1). In that chapter, we studied about what our perspective on this life and the afterlife should be (Week 2).
He also reminds us, once again, of the difference between living for immediate pleasure versus living for heavenly pleasure. Those living for immediate pleasure are ones whose “…stomach is their god. They brag about what they should be ashamed of. They think only about earthly things” (vs. 19, NIrV) However, those living in faith, for heavenly pleasures, “are citizens of heaven. And we can hardly wait for a Savior from there. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. He has the power to bring everything under his control. By his power he will change our earthly bodies. They will become like his glorious body.” (vs. 20-21, NIrV)
Be encouraged, friend. Keep going and don’t look back. Remember that we are just passing through this life in order to arrive at our destination!
(When answering, please be sure to first put the number of the question in your comment.)
- Why do we sometimes dwell, in an unhealthy way, on past experiences, thoughts, and actions of our old life? (Do any of the bulleted questions above ‘hit home’ for you?)
- If you had to leave your home immediately, and you knew that all your worldly possessions would be destroyed, what thing would be the hardest to leave behind? Take a moment to really think about it.
- How is the fruit of self-control being revealed in this passage?
Remember to pray for the things that are listed on our Prayer page.
‘See ya’ next week!